Six years ago, in the summer of 2010, Disney’s Animal Kingdom held an event in Africa for three weeks in July. Known as the Taste of Africa, the festival was billed as a street party taking place in Harambe. The main focus of the event was on food and beverage offerings, along with cultural elements, from Africa. You could think of it as a miniature version, or a test run, of the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival in another park.
This was before Harambe was expanded and more of the village was accessible to guests, before there were a variety of food items available at the Harambe Market, and before music and dance permeated Harambe daily. Each of the food and beverage stations included tangible, real world examples of how items were prepared. Occasionally, these demonstrations were even hands-on! It was, by all accounts, a huge success, but for whatever reason the event never saw the longevity of Epcot’s festival.
The attention to detail within the various stations was matched only by the takeaways from the Taste of Africa. For starters there were recipe sheets, which covered everything from curry and baba ghanoush, to chutney, hummus, bobotie, tabbouleh and even banana bread pudding and baklava. Just thinking about these recipes makes me want to rush to the kitchen and start cooking! But the real prize here, in terms of takeaways, was the festival guide.
It was created to give the Taste of Africa a sense of place, firmly rooted in the people and industries of Harambe. For starters, it was put together by the Harambe Merchants Council. There were featured items to look out for which appear to have been photocopied into the pamphlet, and each represented a different restaurant or business. The whole thing was put together and printed by the local printers, Karatasi & Co. Karatasi, in Swahili, means paper for what it’s worth. Twiga Travel Agency, a popular travel agency whose products and postings can be seen all throughout Harambe, helped fund the guide and its distribution. Even the map was created by a local artist or cartographer named Erevu.
Yes, there were a lot of tasty dishes and delicious beverages to be sampled during the Taste of Africa, many of which have made their way to either the Harambe Market or Dawa Bar. The cultural aspects that truly made this a street party have lived on in the form of Burudika to the Tam Tam Durmmers in Harambe, but even beyond Africa into other areas of the park, including DJ Anaan and Chakranadi in Asia and the recently unveiled Carnivale of Discovery Island. It’s a shame that the event never gain any momentum, however, I’m happy (at least the ephemera geek in me is) we have these incredible guides to look back on!